DHHS Provides Grants to Help States Conduct Insurance Rate Reviews

On September 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced $109 million in grants to states to help them increase oversight of health insurers, one of the key features of the health care reform law. Under the Affordable Care Act, health care insurers are required to post on their Web sites explanations of premium increases exceeding 10 percent and to justify the hikes to state and federal regulators who also will post them starting this year. DHHS expects this procedure to have a moderating influence on premiums. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that 28 states and the District of Columbia will receive these awards. [More]

Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Nears Enactment

On September 20, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) brought the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (S. 1542) for mark up before the Committee. While supporting the bi-partisan legislation, both spoke of the need for continued reform of the child welfare system beyond this legislation. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) mentioned the need to continue improving outcomes for youth in care and agreed with the need for further reforming child welfare financing. [More]

CMS Launches Bundled Payments Initiative

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on August 23 its Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative, under which Medicare payments will be made for episodes of care through payment models promoting improved coordination, quality, and treatment outcomes. The initiative is authorized under section 3021 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). [More]

Subcommittee Hears Proposals to Improve TANF Goals

On September 8, the Human Resources Subcommittee heard testimony from experts with varying opinions on the success of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) legislation and recommendations for reauthorization. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released a report providing valuable information for the Congress as the reauthorization for the legislation is needed before expiration on September 30, 2011. [More]